We hope that the Community Guidelines area of the site will serve as clearinghouse for tzedakah guidelines prepared by various communities and organizations. In order to maintain the quality, guidelines can be included only if they are prepared by competent authorities.
So far there is only a single set of guidelines on the site; those prepared by the Baltimore Maryland rabbinate, which appear below. If you are aware of any others, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. It will be a tremendous service to the many Jews who are not conversant in all the details of fulfilling the mitzvah of tzedakah.
Recipients of Tzedakah funds be they individuals or institutions may be divided into three broad categories consisting of A) Those in the Baltimore area; B) Those to whom one has a moral obligation. (See below a listing of what constitutes a moral obligation.); C) Those out of town. Out of town includes Eretz Yosroel and Yerushalayim.
In allocating and disbursing Tzedakah funds one should divide the amount of Tzedakah into thirds. The first one-third should be given to needy individuals or institutions in town. A second third should be used to satisfy one’s moral obligations whether they be in town or elsewhere. In the event that one’s moral obligations are all in town then at least two-thirds of one’s Tzedakah would be distributed in the Baltimore area. The final third may be given to any qualified individual or institution including those out of town, provided that the requirement stated above, of assuring that over 50% of one’s Tzedakah be distributed in town, has been satisfied.
The following constitute moral obligations.
a) A needy relative or close friend
b) A mosad in which you, your spouse, or your children received a Torah education without paying full tuition.
c) A mosad or needy individual from which you have direct benefit.
d) A mosad owned or directed by a relative or close friend to whom you feel a responsibility to help.
Reuvain and his wife have determined that their moral obligations are such that 67% of their moral obligations (22% of total Tzedakah) are in town and 33% (11% of total Tzedakah) are out of town. Their distribution of Tzedakah would then be as follows: They would be giving 55% of total Tzedakah (33% plus 22%) for in town need, thus satisfying the requirement of distributing a majority of their Tzedakah funds in town.
Shimon and his wife Leah have all of their moral obligations out of town. In order to assure that a majority of total Tzedakah is given in town, they would have to give a little more than half from their last one-third (17% of total Tzedakah) for in town needs.
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